16 Sep 2015

Inmate appeals media interview call

2:39 pm on 16 September 2015

Serial litigant and prison inmate Arthur Taylor has told the Court of Appeal the Corrections Department denied him a media interview to protect itself.

Arthur Taylor

Arthur Taylor during his successful court case earlier this year over prisoners' voting rights. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker-Wilson

Arthur Taylor, who is in Auckland Prison, appeared before the court in Wellington today via video link, in his latest legal bid to get permission for an interview with TVNZ.

He had agreed to a face-to-face interview in 2013 about his involvement in challenging smoking bans in prison but Corrections denied the interview on safety grounds.

Taylor said today that Corrections had ulterior motives.

"I say an inference can be drawn, particularly if the fresh evidence is allowed in, that the real reason for declining the interview had more to do with protecting the Department of Corrections, including senior officials and the responsible minister, from anticipated criticism and scrutiny."

Taylor had earlier applied for a judicial review in the High Court but it was dismissed.

He is now arguing the judge made a mistake, and the decision put undue weight on a previous prison offence which he did not commit.

Second recent case

It is the second case in recent months concerning inmate media interviews.

In June, the High Court overturned Corrections' decision to ban convicted double murderer Scott Watson from speaking face-to-face to a journalist from North and South.

The judge's decision said Watson's desire to draw attention to his claims of a miscarriage of justice would inevitably have an adverse effect on his victims' families.

But it said Corrections had not explained why a face-to-face interview would be more harmful than allowing Watson to write to the journalist, which had been permitted.

The department looked again at the application and decided to grant it.

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